With a recent Bloomberg post on this topic, we just had to weigh in on our own picks.
The resume font post heard ‘round the world
Recently Bloomberg published a short list of what their interviewed experts deemed some of the best (and worst) choices for resume fonts. Great idea for a typography-related post, we have to admit—which is evident from the deluge of posts repurposing and referencing the piece.
Given our legacy in font management, we thought we’d add value to the conversation by weighing in with some of our own top picks, along with some other tips and considerations when choosing your own resume font. A lot of these articles seem to be drawing the conclusion that Helvetica is the best (i.e. “safest”) choice, but as we’ve pointed out before, there are lots of alternatives to Helvetica. Plus, as much as I love Garamond personally—another top pick in the article—there are cooler fonts out there for the under 40 set to choose from.
All that said, let’s look at some things to consider when creating and typesetting your resume.
Answer the big-picture questions first
There’s been a lot of chatter in the community about designing your resume vs. keeping more straightforward and type-based, with maybe just a custom logo and a little color here and there.
As a former hiring manager and employer, my personal opinion is to keep it simple. Perhaps unfairly, I just get this nagging sense that over-designed resumes suggest the person has too much time on their hands vs. creating some outstanding first impression. Too much style over substance. Plus a designed resume is very subjective—it’s either going to resonate with the hiring manager or not (more likely not). The bottom line is that I want to be able to easily scan a simple, professional-looking, and aesthetically competent (vs. full-on “designed”) resume from a very large stack so I can quickly glean the information I need—their experience.
A second consideration before you dive into putting together your resume is integrating it with your online brand presence. For example, if you’re using what I consider to be an appealing, modern font like Avenir in your logo or body copy for your online portfolio, it’s just good branding to apply the same look and feel to your paper or PDF resume.
A third consideration before you execute is what the right design tool is for creating your resume. InDesign is great for designers who want a lot of control, but so much can be done in Pages or Microsoft® Word these days in terms of formatting and control, you may just want to opt for either of those.
If you’re using Word, may we recommend our own Suitcase Attache, which lets you browse, preview and apply your entire font collection, plus 1,200+ Google fonts, to your Word docs and PowerPoint® presentations.
Choosing your font
If you have trouble finding a font you fancy that you’ve seen out in the world, try one of the many available font identification websites and other resources that can help you identify it. Still can’t find a font you like? There’s plenty of inspiration to be found out there, from typography blogs and top websites to music flyers and product packaging. And don’t forget about one of the biggest ways we like to stay inspired, our own Fontspiration app for iPhone, that lets you find fresh new fonts, experiment, create and share you own fast font creations.
Before you start laying out your resume, you may also want to ask yourself if you want to pay for a font, or if you want to use one of the thousands of available free fonts on the web. Good fonts are expensive, and while that cool font you like might set you apart today, it not be in fashion—or it might look stale—next year when everyone else is using it.
Our Top 5 Resume Fonts
You’ve chosen the font you feel best expresses your personal brand and professionalism. It’s not Helvetica (woo-hoo!) Before you dive in, here are 5 of our favorites. We may not have hired every candidate who’s sent a resume using these picks, but we admit it doesn’t hurt.
Caslon – If Times New Roman is the equivalent of showing up to the interview in sweatpants, but you still really, really like sweatpants, Caslon (first seen circa 1722 with many updates since) is a timeless but arguably more modern and cool-looking alternative.
Museo Slab – This handsome typeface is available in 12 styles that all announce “I’m strong, authoritative, and unique. When can I start?”
Gotham – Often mistaken for Proxmia Nova (or vice versa), this font seems to be everywhere these days, including Obama’s 2008 campaign, film trailer title cards, Coca-Cola advertising, and Saturday Night Live, to name a few.
Trade Gothic – This stately, good-looking family includes 17 fonts in 4 weights and 3 widths—plenty of variety for resume headers and body copy. Plus its clear lines and curves are legible enough to read at smaller sizes.
Avenir – Meaning French for “future,” you may recognize this personal favorite from the Apple Maps app or Dwell magazine. Avenir is one of those clean, modern-looking fonts that’s gender-neutral, easy to read, aesthetically pleasing, and unobtrusive, making it perfect for creating a professional first impression.
So there you have it. Don’t forget to set your fonts between 10 and 12 points, and we recommend leaving at least an inch margin on all sides of the page.
Whether you’re designing for a client who wants to jazz up their resume, or you’re looking for a new gig yourself, good luck and happy fonting!